Today marks the 100th Birthday of Julia Child, that tall woman who taught American how to cook French cuisine and who took cooking to a whole different level. Frankly, I can not say much about the state of cooking the the United States in the 1960s. But from what I hear, it wasn’t the best or rather very versatile. Well, I grew up in the GDR behind the iron curtain, our daily meal was probably not much better or exciting. Julia with her personality and perspective on food changed all that, and much more.
Right now I am reading the new biography book “Dearie” by Bob Spitz and the Prologue tells of Julia’s first appearance on TV, during a book reading show, with a professor from Harvard (if I remember correctly). The description of the scene is very funny and will make you laugh for sure. But it shows already what kind of personality Julia Child was and what she would do in the future, change the world. Not only would she bring some fresh perspective to the table but she would be also one of the first cooks on TV, a fairly new notion in those days.
Omlette with mushrooms and spring onion.
Above all, she would be one of those cooks/chefs in the scene that had no real formal training. Ok, that’s not quite right, she was trained at the Cordon Bleu and I am sure that was difficult and toilsome enough. However, I don’t think she ever had a restaurant where she would work day in and day out. Julia Child rather represented those chefs and cooks at home, who feed the family, daily. In my view, and I don’t even have kids yet, that’s a bit challenge. With kids probably even more so.
Btw, the first encounter I had with Julia Child was through the movie “Julie & Julia” with Amy Adams and Maryl Streep. What a movie! The food, the people, the flair. *sigh* I was in love, instantly. At the time I was also studying English and American Studies in Germany and one of my professors had shifted her focus a bot on food and culture. We dealt with Colombian Exchange for example and looked at foods that moved between the new and the old world. Most people don’t know that the potato comes from the Americans, so do the sunflower and tomato. My studies thus focused on food and what it can do within a society. At the end I wrote a thesis about the whole thing and looking at food, studying the influences, the changes and of course making delicious meals and baking never left me.
Mousse au Chocolate with Baileys
When I moved to Canada I finally decided I should buy “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” and it has been used several times since. For croissants for example, an endeavor that I might repeat, at some point, in the future.
Thanks to this food blog I was also approached by Alfred A. Knopf Publisher who put on the JC100, a blogging challenge. Each week the participants would receive a recipe. You could do one recipe of the list, two, all of them, just make sure you blogged about it and showed what you did with the recipe. I was not able to make all 15 recipe for various reasons.
Ladyfingers – they were suppose to go with a different dish but ended up in Tiramisu
For one, we received the recipes on a Monday. I go grocery shopping on Friday or over the weekend. During the week I hardly have to time to do so. *sigh* This resulted in late blog entries, a week or so later, when I finally got around to get the ingredients and make it. Also, I am living in two person household, which means things like Coq au Vine can get tricky. What would I do with a whole chicken? Yes, I can downscale the recipe, but I felt that wasn’t the point. Other recipes just didn’t float my boat, like Bouillabaisse. While I like fish I think I wouldn’t like that particular recipe.
Ratatouille with Lobster Tail
However, I have them in my list of things to make and I hope one of these days I will get around it. The JC100 was a wonderful opportunity to make something I haven’t thought about it yet. Mousse au Chocolate was on my list but this gave me the reason to make it. The same holds true for Ratatouille. Thank you Julia Child for amazing recipes and the love you had for cooking and baking. It changed the food world in a wonderful way.